The RAF said “diolch yn fawr Cymru” (thank you Wales) as the RAF’s one hundred-year relationship with the country was celebrated at the Royal Welsh Show this week.
Around one-tenth of the Welsh population came to see the show which saw the RAF mark its 100th anniversary with flypasts, parachute displays and an RAF village among the light-blue attractions.
The RAF's links with Wales are as old as the service itself. It was a Welshman, David Lloyd George, who, as Prime Minister, ensured the RAF was born in 1918.
Wales plays a key role in RAF operations and training to this day with all fast-jet pilots being trained at RAF Valley on Anglesey, while the new F35 stealth fighter jets will be serviced at Sealand in Flintshire.
Air Vice Marshal Sue Gray presented the Chief Executive of the Royal Welsh Agricultural Society Steve Hughson with a polished cast metal sculpture of a Spitfire as a token of thanks for the support given by the Welsh farming community to the RAF.
Mr Hughson said:
"The Royal Welsh Agricultural Society is delighted that the armed forces are able to utilise the land and the air over Wales in ensuring they remain the very best trained armed forces in the world. There will always be a very warm welcome here for the RAF."
Across the week, the RAF Falcons and RAF Association Wings parachute display teams landed on the showground and some of the estimated 250,000 show-goers took the chance to look round a replica Hawk jet of the RAF Red Arrows aerobatic team.
"I want to thank the people of Wales for the welcome they have given us here at the Royal Welsh Show. It's a great honour for the RAF to play such a big part in one of Wales' biggest events in this, the special year of our 100th anniversary.
"It has been a fantastic week. We've seen crowds cheer our display teams and we’ve seen youngsters having fun learning about the RAF."
Air Commodore Adrian Williams
Air Officer Wales
The afternoon’s programme for the second day was given over to the RAF with the band of the RAF Regiment and the RAF's elite formation drill team, the Queen's Colour Squadron displaying on the main arena. Then, a flypast by two C-130 Hercules transport aircraft of Number 47 Squadron wowed the thousands of spectators gathered below.
The Young Farmers Clubs of Wales adopted an RAF theme for their competitions and there were also displays from the RAF Nordic skiing team, Welsh RAF reservists from Number 614 (County of Glamorgan) Squadron, the RAF Police dogs section and the RAF Tug of War Team. Hawk jets from RAF Valley in North Wales also staged a flypast.